‘Ur­rgh’: Di­ana on Charles the wooer

The Press - - World -

BRI­TAIN: It is hardly the re­sponse you ex­pect from a cheat­ing hus­band but when Di­ana, Princess of Wales con­fronted Prince Charles over his in­fi­delity, he replied: ‘‘I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mis­tress.’’

Di­ana de­scribes the blunt re­sponse in pri­vately recorded videos that of­fer a new in­sight into the cou­ple’s fail­ing re­la­tion­ship and the out­dated views of the royal fam­ily. She also re­counts go­ing to see the Queen at the height of the cri­sis in her mar­riage, to be told: ‘‘I don’t know what you should do, Charles is hope­less.’’

The tapes, recorded at Kens­ing­ton Palace in 1992-3 by speech coach Peter Set­te­len, have haunted the royal fam­ily for more than two decades. Pre-dat­ing Di­ana’s 1995 Panorama in­ter­view, they re­veal de­tails of the cou­ple’s sex life (‘‘once every three weeks and then it fiz­zled out’’); Charles’s clumsy woo­ing of her; Di­ana’s love for her per­sonal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cer Barry Man­na­kee and the shadow cast over the mar­riage by Camilla Parker Bowles, now Charles’s wife.

Ex­tracts will be seen for the first time in Bri­tain next Sun­day on Chan­nel 4 in a doc­u­men­tary, Di­ana in Her Own Words.

NBC broad­cast brief pas­sages in Amer­ica in 2004, spark­ing such con­tro­versy that the BBC scrapped its plans to broad­cast them in 2007.

The record­ings were seized in 2001 by po­lice search­ing the loft of Di­ana’s for­mer but­ler Paul Bur­rell, who was cleared of all charges of theft from the royal fam­ily af­ter the Queen con­firmed his in­no­cence.

Set­te­len had been hired to help Di­ana pre­pare to present her ac­count of events af­ter the cou­ple sep­a­rated in 1991. Although much of the footage is of voice les­sons, at times she an­swers per­sonal ques­tions in a re­mark­ably frank man­ner.

Her ac­count of be­ing wooed by Charles is al­most comic. ‘‘I was asked to stay with friends in Sus­sex and they said, ‘Oh, the Prince of Wales is stay­ing be­cause he’s play­ing polo,’’’ she re­calls. ‘‘I thought I hadn’t seen him in ages. He had just bro­ken up with his girl­friend and Earl Mount­bat­ten had just been killed.’’ Di­ana had been pre­vi­ously ‘‘un­im­pressed’’ by the prince but this time she thought, ‘‘I am quite im­pressed ... he chat­ted me up, [he was all over me] like a bad rash; I thought ... ehh [pulls back, pulls face].

‘‘We were at a bar­be­cue that night talk­ing about Mount­bat­ten and his girl­friend and I said, ‘You must be so lonely.’ I said, ‘It’s pa­thetic watch­ing you walk­ing up the aisle with Lord Mount­bat­ten’s cof­fin in front, ghastly. You need some­one be­side you ...’ Agggh. Wrong word! Where­upon he leapt upon me and started kiss­ing me and ev­ery­thing and [waves arms] ur­rgh ... You know, this is not what peo­ple do.

‘‘Next day he said, ‘You must come to Buck­ing­ham Palace with me, I have some work to do but you wouldn’t mind sit­ting while I do my work.’

‘‘I thought, ‘Well, bug­ger it, I do mind sit­ting there while you do your work,’ and I said that and that sort of lit up some­thing in him, that some­one an­swered back. So I was quite a chal­lenge.’’

In the tapes Di­ana comes across as shy, youth­ful, en­gag­ing and full of laugh­ter. When asked by Set­te­len why she fo­cused on char­ity work she bursts into gig­gles and says: ‘‘I’ve got noth­ing else to do!’’

She and Charles met only 13 times be­fore their mar­riage. ‘‘He wasn’t con­sis­tent with his court­ing abil­i­ties,’’ Di­ana says. ‘‘He’d ring me every day for a week, then wouldn’t speak to me for three weeks. Very odd. I thought, ‘Fine. Well, he knows where I am if he wants me.’ The thrill when he used to ring up was so im­mense and in­tense. It would drive the other three girls in my flat crazy.’’

The in­quiry by a tele­vi­sion in­ter­viewer on the day of the en­gage­ment as to whether they were in love was, she says, a ‘‘thick ques­tion’’ but she was stunned by Charles’s re­sponse: ‘‘What­ever ‘in love’ means.’’ She says: ‘‘That threw me com­pletely. I thought: what a strange an­swer ... God. It trau­ma­tised me.’’

In pub­lic, she adds, the pair were ‘‘a good team’’ de­spite their es­trange­ment.

‘‘I used to get in the car with Charles and I used to blub in the car. There would be crowds ev­ery­where and he would say, ‘Now what’s the mat­ter?’ I said, ‘I can’t be in this car.’ He said, ‘Why?’

‘‘I can’t be in this car, I don’t feel safe. I was neu­rotic al­most but then when I got out of the car ... [pulls face of calm]’’ She was aware of Charles’s re­la­tion­ship with Camilla and con­fronted him: ‘‘I re­mem­ber say­ing to my hus­band, ‘Why, why is this lady around?’ And he said, ‘Well, I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mis­tress.’’’

Di­ana blames the mar­riage and her iso­la­tion in the royal fam­ily for her bu­limia. ‘‘Ev­ery­body knew about the bu­limia in the fam­ily. And they all blamed the fail­ure of the mar­riage on the bu­limia and it’s taken them time to think dif­fer­ently.

‘‘I said I was re­jected, I didn’t think I was good enough for this fam­ily, so I took it out on my­self. I could have gone to al­co­hol ... I could have been anorexic ... I chose to hurt my­self in­stead of hurt­ing all of you.’’

The Chan­nel 4 ex­tracts are taken from seven tapes. There were be­lieved to be 12 in all, but five are miss­ing. The royal fam­ily may have more rev­e­la­tions to face.

"Where­upon he leapt upon me and started kiss­ing me and ev­ery­thing and [waves arms] ur­rgh . . . You know, this is not what peo­ple do." Princess Di­ana

PHOTO: REUTERS

There were pub­lic hints at the pri­vate dif­fi­cul­ties of Charles and DI­ana’s re­la­tion­ship.

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